EEOC sues nursing home for religious discrimination

A Boca Raton, Fla. nursing facility violated federal law by firing an employee over Sabbath-keeping issues, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged in a lawsuit.

Menorah House, a Jewish nursing home, allegedly fired Philomene Augustin, a CNA and Seventh-Day Adventist, for refusing to work on Saturdays—Sabbath for both Judaism and Augustin’s religion. Menorah House had accommodated Augustin’s request not to work on her Sabbath for more than 10 years until management instituted a new policy requiring all employees to work on Saturdays, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs so long as this does not pose an undue hardship.

“The law seeks to strike a balance between reasonably accommodating religious beliefs and respecting legitimate business concerns,” said Robert E. Weisberg, the EEOC’s Regional Attorney for Miami. “Unfortunately, in this case the employer refused its legal obligation to pursue a solution that’s fair for all concerned.”

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